Category Archives: bullfights

TMI

 Navigating a cancer diagnosis that has a surgical intervention is pretty complicated. In the case of breast cancer  the mastectomy or lumpectomy scar is right there for you to look at, it is hard to hide from, even in a case where the patient has opted to get reconstruction. 
Girly bits, the lower ones, cancer is a little different. 
Both breast and cervical cancer are traditionally considered women’s cancer (though men can and do get breast cancer). Our breasts and vagina’s are the most obvious parts of what makes us women (yes, yes, yes, aside from all that inside touchy-feely kind of stuff).
I have not had breast cancer, but I used to sit on a board for an organization that served women who had breast cancer, and as such I heard a ton of stories. Women’s sexuality, for many of us, are tied up in our boobs.
Are they small. Are they big. What kind of nipples. Do they sag. Do they perk. 
People we, as women, love intimately, typically love them.
I can’t imagine the mental turmoil surrounding losing your breasts.
I know too well the psychological turmoil in losing your lower girly bits.
For starters, here is a pictorial cartoon like representation that I took from the ethers about what those girly bits look like. I would have used actual body parts, but really, it can be hard to tell from something like a medical school cadaver image. 
It should not be a surprise to anyone that I owned these parts. These parts are also part of what made me a girl. Aside from boobs and all that other stuff. Gender identity… I believe that is the new buzzword.

This is me, before the surgery.
So, below is a picture of me after the surgery. I had to use some fancy apps on my phone to remove those parts which I had removed. But this is all that is left inside me. Most of my vagina. And my ovaries. Everything else was taken out. My uterus – OUT. My cervix – OUT. My Fallopian Tubes – OUT. There were some other things that got taken out too; lymph nodes, tissue… but those aren’t girly bits.  Oh, and you may be wondering what is up with my ovaries. For now, since I plan on asking my oncologist about them at the next meeting, I just imagine that he blinged them up and hung them on my ribs  or something once he separated them from my uterus and Fallopian tubes. I imagine that they are dangling like a disco ball for my abdominal region (what seems to have gotten big enough to play host to an CRAZY internal organ dance party).
This is me after.
But this is my trying to make light of something that is far more serious. My scar from this surgery is on my abdomen. It has not really exemplified what exactly happened to me. 
I had all those parts removed. My vagina was shortened. 
For the past 5 months, I have been terrified to think about what my new body was like. I knew and celebrated it being cancer free, but it changed. it changed in ways that make it very obvious.  
But these are things I cannot see. And because I can’t see what my new vagina was like, I had created horrible images. These were courtesy of words like scar tissue and granulation that were tossed my way in my post surgical exams. 
Those are not pretty words, images of keloid and granulation in my mind as to what my new vagina looked like. I had images of puckers tough tissue reminiscent of the ears that a bullfighter cuts from a bull.  In my head, my new vagina was hideous. I was ashamed and horrified.
So, finally, after five months. I got up the courage to take a feel and see what it was like.
It wasn’t hideous to the touch, there were no areas of puckered keloid tissue with granulation that I could identify. The tissue was smooth, taut, moist. Just what it should be, though missing the nose tip of a cervix.
I cried with a sense of relief.

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TEDx yzpdqbil*

I have to admit, I am currently a little obsessed with TED talks.




It all started with this one talk – I think I saw it sometime in the fall of 2008;

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html


I was floored, and moved, and thought “what a great way to put things out there”.

And since this was new I kind of waited to see what it would bring. I made my mother watch it. I sent it to my friends, and have fondly referred to the talk and my reaction to it ever since.

I was not a Ted-aholic, though. I would only reach out to Ted videos when I referred to them.

But something changed.

As I was preparing to host a movie screening with panel discussion, and I could not find anyone willing to serve as master of ceremonies, I realized that the job would fall to me.

So, I began watching them to see what makes for a good speaker, what are things that are compelling, what things did I like.

I even made Squink watch them while he would take a bath, the bio-luminescence ones are super cool!

I think I am a mediocre speaker. I have some strengths, but plenty of weaknesses.

But after the event, I had the idea of a themed series of talks, something like the Ted talks I had been watching for cues.

It is possible:  https://www.ted.com/participate/organize-a-local-tedx-event

But I think the one for Phoenix is taken.

And they frown upon “themed” events.

And when I thought about it some more, I saw so many possibilities and had to chuckle at the notion that each one had at least one “rule violation”.

I thought about one dealing with the many faces of cancer; from the physicians that find it, the pathologists that decipher it, the oncologists that treat it, the people who have endured it, the families of those who suffered it, the nurses who care for them, the scientists researching it.

It would be good, but it is a theme and violates the programming rules.

Then I thought about what it was like growing up as a third culture kid, and how cool it would be to get other people who grew up that way. I think my friend Doralice would have some wonderful insights, as would my friend Sparrow, and my friends Jeff and Erica. I think it would be interesting to give voice to that kind of experience. It is a bit unusual.

I have met so many interesting people, I would love to have an event to hear them talk… the Jivaro indian that had to flee his tribe because he wouldn’t convert, the people who started putumayo, the circus people, the rodeo folks, singers, entrepreneurs of the ridiculous, those off grid (the hardest to organize), photographers, movie stars, cartoonists in the golden era, explorers, survivors, hedonists, narcissists, and so on.

That got me to thinking about what would happened if I was told I had to give a Ted talk…  kind of talk could I give? what would it be about?

My ideas for Ted events is large…. but the list of things I feel I would be qualified to talk about is pretty non-existent.

I suppose I could talk about how being diagnosed with cancer was life changing in some spectacularly subtle ways… or what it was like being born to a bullfighter father and an explorer mother, though that is really their stories. About being a child of divorce (booooooring).  What it was like managing a high stress pregnancy, most of which was spent on bed rest (gag me).

At this point in my life, I think I would talk about why I think vaccines are important, from a theoretical view, and cultural view, and prevention view, a mothers view, a survivors view,

What would your Ted talk be about?









*stands for examine your zipper, pretty darn quick, before I look (a childhood phrase)

Day 18 – 40 days of writing- The long, slow, walk to the guillotine.

My paperwork is filled out.
And I sit here, today, tonight, feeling like I am awaiting an execution.
There is such an ominous feeling in knowing that tomorrow all this becomes so much more real. There are conversations I have to have…   decisions I have to make… all of which feel overwhelming to me now, even before they are completely and specifically known.
And as I contemplate them… the ones that are somewhat known, they feel so bitter.
I can’t ask “Why me?” because this is a product of life; choices that I made and that have brought me to this junction. It is futile to wonder the why, but in my most self pitying moments I wish I could scream this into the abyss… and then reason takes over and answers me gently.
Nature is so cruel. I was brought up with that in my every day life. And yet, I want to scream… “why do this to me, why take the one thing that is a symbol of being a mother and obliterate the last few years of my chances at having more children”. “I wanted six”, I want to add to my scream, and in the end I feel weighed down by this incredible failure of aspiration.
And perhaps it is this failure that makes things in this situation so damn hard, because it is just that. A failure.
I look at the exotic eyes of my beautiful son, and choke up at how much I love him and how profoundly lucky I am that he came in to my life, and feeling that the intense lamentations of the ones who were never to be born are equally lost to him.
Couple that with the idea that I should be grateful that I do have him, creates a whirlwind of emotions as intense as they are complex. 
That which I have held most sacred, motherhood, will be denied me (in this way) much earlier than I am ready for.
The rituals of this disease are subtle and fierce. My physician turned my care over to the oncologist. I do not get to return to him until I am released back… much like a prison sentence.
And so, I feel like my dinner tonight was a last meal… and tomorrow will begin the long, slow walk to my own personal guillotine.

Day 7 – 40DOW – Curious George is my new hero

There is something kind of magical that happens when you get a serious diagnosis… You get a new level of patience and tolerance, and you hold closer to what’s unacceptable and intolerable.

It is as if one gets knighted and imbued with certain super powers. Probably though, it is just some form of self examination that allows for some serious decision making.

I am not dying, but this may be the closest I get to that in a while. A friend wrote me last night about how I was now in the middle of my “bull fight” and that I had an arena of friends who were supporting me through this. I was struck by their using this metaphor not only because I am a bullfighters daughter, but because there really was some intense truth to what they wrote (and also because they hate bullfights so I was surprised to see them use this).

Without delving into a treatise on bullfighting, I will say that the bullfight is not about the torero, it is about the relationship between the bull fighter and the bull, each playing into instincts and their very special mortal relationship. They are each trying to figure the other out, and while they are separate, they form a symbiotic relationship. I am here in this ring, and I am that relationship, the instinct is driving me to examine my surroundings, and as they said, I have a cadre of people supporting that.

Which brings me to something else that has been swirling in my newly seriously introspective mind.

I recall the day when you heard that someone had cervical cancer that a pretty loaded assumption was possible made:

The woman (since men do not get cervical cancer) was a loose ho-bag and had proverbial round heels

I have heard this whispered amongst the most gossipy of people even to this day. So, yes there is a certain fear of assumptions that people (stupid people) may make about me. I know that I have never been a loose ho-bag and I most certainly do not have round heels. And I don’t think that what is happening is the direct result of any karmic like indiscretions I may have made.  I am a human with a cervix and it has betrayed me (yet again).

I sit here newly diagnosed with something the most heinous of gossips use to tear people down and between that and the whole mortality associated with the word cancer causes for an astonishing amount of reflection. Self-reflection certainly, but also about the world I live in; the friends I have and thee ones I had, the adventures, the quiet moments, the rage, the gentle, the sweet peace when my son rests his head on my lap, the Ebola crisis, our southwestern drought, or awfully separatist politicians, the atrocities in the Sudan… all these and so much more… they have become different in some ways now.

At the root, though, these are extensions of curiosity, which is a true animal behavior.  There is something primal about trying to understand what is happening around you.  A certain fierceness comes, priorities seems stronger and there is a certain curiosity that reigns over me. It is like an adrenaline rush, but in a very sedate way (much like the adrenaline the human and the bull need to control when in the ring). I consider how the social animals (outside of humans) interact with each other. Elephants are amazing at this, but so are so many other animals. And there is something beautiful in that… in feeling close to that which unites all of us animals as we try to make sense of the world around us. It connects me to my surroundings, makes me feel a part of something whole and those who think this kind of thing (introspection) is something selfish, elitist, or wrong are just temporarily disconnected from the life death continuum.

Day 5 – 40DOW – I don’t have Ebola

Restless nights provide for interesting lucid thinking. I’ll start from a doze-like-state with some thought usually a random one.

At this point, it’s 3:00 am and I am snuggled up in our Arizona pines under a heated blanket. I have arranged for a Skype call with my sister in England for later. But what woke me was the thought; “I don’t have Ebola”. Which isn’t that far off since we have a gentleman up here in a self imposed quarantine after his return from a mission trip to Liberia. News link
It’s also interesting that I’ve had to, on a couple of occasions, give friends permission to worry for me. When something scary happens to someone you care about it can be hard. But it’s tough to understand since I’ve always felt the right to deal with these things as my body dictated. I’m also surprised in the ever slight shift in my self. I’d consider myself to be nurturing in many ways, I tend to love people fiercely when something about them speaks to my soul, and as I manage the phone conversations and emails, I feel decidedly more nurturing to them. It’s very subtle, but it’s something I’ve noticed. I wonder if it’s the result of the emotional exhaustion or just an internal shift and I wonder how temporary it might be… this urge to tell the people I love that are family and friends to give in to how their body is telling them to react. Maybe it’s because I see love in their reactions and I’m honored and humbled by its reciprocity.
Maybe it’s because it’s now 3:30 am and I need to get more sleep.

Here is a picture of a bull with a B on his butt.

It is always an overwhelming experience

My parents are the kind of people that have never turned away a chance at adventure… though perhaps in some way it finds them and they are really not given a true choice.

My semi-estranged father (and I say semi-estranged because I just have not figured him out yet and he is like a stranger to me) had arranged another bullfight for himself and his bullfight friends.

This is how I grew up, from when I was born until about 1979. Bullfights. Or something bullfight related. Every. damn. weekend. Especially so when we had the bullfight stock bull ranch.

At some point in those years, my mother stopped going to them and I can’t imagine my dad taking kids with him… but I can’t recall not going having that exposure (maybe it was when we would go to the ranch?).

So, it is hard to get past something that is so in your face, to me bullfighting just was.. I mean, didn’t your dad love it too? Really, I just thought it was something all dad’s liked. Though it was in that way that it was not a surprise that other dad’s didn’t, but I just figured they had a different all consuming passion.

So, we flash forward to my father getting back into it around 2000, I was just married and had actually not been aware that my half-sibling hadn’t grown up the same way. My dad must have been miserable (though he was living in England). but somehow he starts up, and then gets divorced, moves in Spain and ends up in Northern California. Northern California has a huge Portuguese community and many of them have ranches where they raise bulls for their festivals (allowed per the California constitution) and so he starts and to me, it is like he never even stopped. As a matter of fact when he was talking and let us know that he had not bull-fought from 1980 to 2000, I was a little shocked.

In 1998, my dad gave me money for my birthday with the direct instruction to buy an abono for the Bullfight Festival in Ecuador. I did, with the caveat of buying better seats when his favorite bullfighter was there. That was in pre-blog era and I should write about that some day I suppose.

Anyway, I got to see him around 2006 when Squink was just over a year old and we go to a part to practice using the cape.

Then we get to late in 2008 when Squink is about 3, and I see him back in a ring again.

And then, in 2012, I get in to a ring.

So, now we are at 2014 and my (full) brother and I take our kids to see dad fight and to take them to a “professional” fight.

The fact is, this is never easy on me.  I have had to find a way to wrap my head around it. I have rituals that I have developed from my youth (I always look at the bulls eyes as it dies).

It is so hard to write about all the crazy emotions that are involved in an experience like this. I don’t even know where to start when I bring those in to teh equation.

I suppose I should start by just telling folks who have the gumption to read something on this theme what it is that happened. Though I imagine it might become a multi-part series… which is a positive as it keeps me pretending to “write good”.

Friday night – Schatzy and I get home from work, load up the car and in his ever so awesome self he begins the long haul road trip drive to San Diego where we are meeting my dad, my uncle, and my brother and his kids (who are also doing the commute from Phoenix). Most of the planning gets done on our drive out there, what time we need to get together, what time we want to leave, how to check in, that kind of stuff.

Saturday means a 11:00 am departure to head towards Tecate, Mexico.

I have yet to upload the shots from my camera, but here are some from my phone.

Here is where we ended up on Saturday.

Exploring vulnerability

Everyone, I think, would agree that there is something about being vulnerable that sucks.

I write about it here.

In terms of why I am cross referencing both blogs, the answer is that I am still looking at both platforms, not sure what to do. I think they both have advantages and disadvantages in a manner such that that I do not feel in-any-way-compelled to use one over the other… I sorta wish I could use both in one.

What are your thoughts?

Anyone?

Anyone?

Anyone?